Robert William Bett
Private 266063 (also 3279) 6th (Perthshire) Battalion (Territorial) Black Watch (Royal Highlanders)
Born 1897 Rutland, Vermont, USA.
Died 30 July 1918 as a prisoner of war at German Field Hospital, Santes, France.
Robert William Bett was born on 26 April 1897 in Rutland, Vermont, USA, as was his elder brother, George Washington Bett, born 26 June 1892, who later joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force Infantry (628556) and survived WW1. A younger brother, James Alexander Bett was born on16 February 1900 at Easterton, Glenfarg.
Their parents were James Easson Bett and Isabella Bett (née Horn(e)) who married on 25 December 1890 in New York City, USA – James having been born in Abernethy, (then in) Fifeshire and Isabella in Glasgow.
At some point they returned to Scotland where they lived and farmed Easterton Farm, Glenfarg – the 1901 census shows the family living there, Robert William aged 3. The 1911 census shows the family still at Easterton – Robert aged 13, and his younger brother James A. aged 11 still at school, and his elder brother George W. aged 18, is a bank clerk. George at some point emigrated to Canada where, on 11 June 1915 at Vernon, British Columbia, he enlisted in the 47th Battalion (B Coy) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He survived the war.
Robert Bett enlisted in the 6th (Perthshire) Battalion (Territorial) Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) at Glenfarg on an unknown date, but his Soldiers's Will is dated 14 February 1916. His sole legatee was his mother Isabella Bett of Easterton, Glenfarg, and she is listed as such in the register of Soldier's Effects (1919). The Commonwealth War Graves Commission grave registration documents simply note that Robert was 'The son of James E. Bett, of Leadketty, Dunning, Perthshire.'
James E. Bett is named on the Valuation Rolls of 1920 as the occupier and tenant of Easterton, although his address is given as Leadketty, Dunning; however the Valuation Rolls of 1925 no longer show him at Easterton.
It is for this reason that Robert Bett is commemorated on the Dunning village war memorial as well as that in Glenfarg.
Robert William Bett died of tuberculosis on 30 July 1918 whilst a Prisoner of War of the Germans, in their Field Hospital at Santes in France and was probably buried in a common hospital grave. He is commemorated on the Soisson Memorial, Aisne, France.
The original British Expeditionary Force crossed the River Aisne in August 1914 a few kilometres west of Soissons, and re-crossed it in September a few kilometres east. For the next three and a half years, this part of the front was held by French forces and the city remained within the range of German artillery.
At the end of April 1918, five divisions of Commonwealth forces (IX Corps) were posted to the French 6th Army in this sector to rest and refit following the German offensives on the Somme and Lys. Here, at the end of May, they found themselves facing the overwhelming German attack which, despite fierce opposition, pushed the Allies back across the Aisne to the Marne. Having suffered 15,000 fatal casualties, IX Corps was withdrawn from this front in early July, but was replaced by XXII Corps, who took part in the Allied counter attack that had driven back the Germans by early August and recovered the lost ground.
The Soissons Memorial commemorates almost 4,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom forces who died during the Battles of the Aisne and the Marne in 1918 and who have no known grave. [CWGC cemetery description]
Robert's mother Isabella died of coronary thrombosis 23 July 1935, aged 66, at 7 Hope Street, St Andrews, Fife, her death being registered by her youngest son, James Alexander Bett. Her husband, James Easson Bett died of arteriosclerosis and cerebral haemorrhage 17 June 1944, aged 82, at 7 Hope Street, St Andrews, Fife. He had remarried in 1942 Isabella Mary Dryburgh, who died in 1973, aged 80, in Cupar, Fife. His death was registered by his grand-daughter, Sybil J. Bett.